Progress. There are several definitions for the word but in the political context it often applies as “the development of an individual or society in a direction considered more beneficial than and superior to the previous level.”
Today we have a president that Millennials wildly supported in 2008, but who appears to be managing America’s economic decline.
In an era in which many Millennials are cynical because they face stubborn unemployment or underemployment, many are looking for youthful alternatives that do not represent the past, be it Democratic or Republican.
I believe that youthful leader is Marco Rubio, who is compared by some to John F. Kennedy. Of all the candidates currently running in the crowded Republican primary field, Rubio stands out as a man who demonstrates the enduring power of American exceptionalism and is capable of effectively communicating conservative principles to younger voters. He is also Hispanic and will dramatically broaden his party’s outreach to Hispanics and Latinos. If the GOP does not significantly increase its share of the growing Hispanic vote, as well as its share of the gay and Millennial vote, it will suffer defeats in 2016 and beyond.
His campaign has emphasized the need for America to meet the challenges of the fiercely competitive new global economy to ignite a “New American Century.”
Gay Millennials are well aware that they are now forced to compete with educated workers across the globe. They are more receptive to a candidate who is confident in our ability to prosper in the 21st century rather than those who encourage a class warfare mentality based on the assumption that we can only succeed at the expense of others. Millennials may be ready to wise up and realize our outdated tax code that penalizes middle class gay entrepreneurs, just as much as it penalizes all U.S. employers and fosters Millennial under employment.
As Rubio puts it, “these ideas don’t move us forward, these ideas move us backward.” This is the sort of new candor that Millennials are seeking in a president.
On other issues, Rubio is equally responsive to the concerns of younger voters. The plan he proposed to simplify the tax code would unleash the potential of LGBT workers and business owners when government eliminates the artificial burdens placed on them by misguided policies and counterproductive regulations. Rubio and increasingly many gay Millennials recognize that “when our economy is growing and thriving, employment isn’t a zero-sum game.”
For gay Millennials who went into debt so they could graduate with degrees that ultimately failed to lead to jobs, Rubio’s proposal to require that college faculty advisers publish the average salaries of the majors they recommend would go a long way toward insuring new Millennials make a profoundly better choice of their major field of study. And this all goes to the essence of what “progress” actually is. It means confronting and remedying problems head-on with new strategies, not pushing them further down the road.
Having seen them in practice while growing up, more and more Millennials are beginning to recognize that to continue fashionable Democratic policies of expanding government power with its scheduled 2016 $20 trillion debt has more in common with Einstein’s definition of insanity than with the dictionary definition of progress. Their way leads only to underachievement and a lethargic economy. We can only counter their outdated ideas with better newer ideas.
As Rubio aptly describes it, “Most people who have ever lived were trapped by the circumstances of their birth, destined to live the life their parents had. But America is different. Here, we are the children and grandchildren of people who refused to accept this.” If we do that, we’ll have achieved true progress, and that includes gay people.
While gay Millennials are predominantly Democratic, often one-third and sometimes more of gay voters quietly vote with the GOP. And they have good reason to take a second look at the GOP, given the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, for it was George W. Bush’s former solicitor general, Ted Olsen, who won the California case against Prop 8 (the ruling was made by a gay Republican judge).
Yet, make no mistake, Millennials need long-term meaningful jobs and rising incomes to solidify their marriages, be they gay or straight. Let’s be all we can be. Yes, America can!
Gabino Cuevas is the former 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year winner from Hispanic Business magazine in the Heavy Industry category and serves on the board of Log Cabin Republicans of Miami.